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  • Disney executives touted the reach of its newly unified ad sales portfolio, which brings together brands like ABC, ESPN, Freeform, FX, and National Geographic, in an advertiser event with ad-tech firm The Trade Desk in New York in August.
  • The legacy media giant said it can offer diverse audiences at an alluring scale.
  • It also suggested its ad sales platform, across linear TV and digital, reaches more people each month than either Google or Facebook.
  • The event centered on the challenges of buying and selling advertising in live events programmatically, and promoted new tools from The Trade Desk to manage those issues.
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Disney, the proud new owner of TV networks FX and National Geographic, is on the road unifying its ad sales operations and inventory across all of its TV networks and digital platforms, including ABC, Freeform, and ESPN, which used to be sold to advertisers separately.

Starting in October, most of Disney’s ad inventory will also be available to buy programmatically through a single ad stack.

Executives from Disney and one of its demand-side-platform partners, The Trade Desk, laid out how advertisers and media buyers should think about the new Disney in an August presentation to advertisers in New York.

Disney said it now has more than 11,000 TV shows across ABC, Freeform, FX, and National Geographic.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

The company also touted the thousands of live events it produces on ESPN every year.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

All of that content will be available to advertisers to buy programmatically in the fall.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

Disney is unifying its ad-tech stack through Google’s ad manager. By October 2019, executives said most Disney ad inventory — with the exception of its content on Hulu, which is still to be integrated — will be available programmatically, though a single ad server and ad stack.

Disney said its ad portfolio can reach almost any audience, including demographics like women, millennials, and African Americans.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

“There’s not an audience that Disney doesn’t hit anymore,” Matt Barnes, senior director of programmatic strategy at Disney, said in a phone interview following the event. “It really allows us to scale and compete.”

The legacy media brand also claimed it reaches more people each month than advertising giants Google and Facebook.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

Disney said its ad sales portfolio, including its linear TV and digital footprint, reaches 11% more people each month than Google and 30% more than Facebook.

“As we brought together the portfolio, we want everyone to think about Disney as a video powerhouse in the marketplace, second to none,” Laura Nelson, Disney’s SVP of performance advertising and solutions, said at the event.

Disney said more of its ad impressions are shifting to connected TVs.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

On average, more than half of Disney’s ad impressions across its top TV brands, like ESPN, ABC, and National Geographic, are being served on connected TVs, Nelson said.

Live sports, some of Disney’s most alluring programming, is mostly watched on the weekends, Disney said.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

The majority of ad impressions for Disney’s live sports happen on the weekends, particularly Saturday night, Nelson said.

“We don’t want you to think it’s fraud, we don’t want you to think these huge influx of traffic is not viable, and we want to make sure that you get the best games of the week,” Nelson said.

Those spikes in live viewership can be tough for media buyers to plan around, Disney and The Trade Desk said.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

The “huge influx of traffic” during live events creates logistical challenges for programmatic buyers and sellers. 

The Trade Desk said it had to beef up its servers to support the volume of impressions during live events. It also built new features to help ad buyers manage their spending during those times.

One of the tools, when set, draws money from campaign budgets during spikes in impressions from premium live events, like a college football matchup on ESPN. Another tool prevents advertisers from overspending during those live events.

The companies advised advertisers to plan ahead for the unpredictable nature of live events.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

The presentation, billed as part of a “bootcamp strategy session,” included a few pieces of parting advice for the programmatic media buyers in the audience.

Sims at The Trade Desk recommended leaving room in budgets to jump on live events, especially sports. Some college football games might not look like important matchups at the start of the season but could become defining moments as the season progresses, he said. 

He also suggested planning ahead for spikes in inventory during live events, and being thoughtful about how often the automated campaigns are set up to deliver those ads.

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD) A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD) A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD) A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD) A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD) A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD) A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD) A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

A new pitch deck from Disney and The Trade Desk advises media buyers to change how they plan around live TV like sports (DIS, TTD)

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